I played the original Diablo when it came out all those years ago...I finished the story, left the game and never went back. I did the same with D2 at release, thinking both were decent games but rather short and shallow.
When Blizzard first announced D3 my buddy went absolutely bat-shit crazy about it and I've spent the last 2-3 years trying to figure out what made this game so great. I was amazed to see a still-thriving D2 community so many years after that game's release, especially in a world where graphics and game complexity seem to be the ONLY reason to generate hype about a game. I just couldn't understand it...until last weekend....
I bought D3 last Tuesday and have been playing fairly consistently since then. It's fun, if simple, gameplay seems to hit the sweet spot of being enjoyable and rewarding without requiring the massive time commitments of other games I play. I was playing through normal mode, still trying to understand the undying devotion so many players have for this game when I finished act 4. The Story was good, even if a little disturbing, the soundtrack (as noted in your article) was good, but I still didn't "get it". Then I looked at my XP bar and realized that I was only level 35 and the game was over....but there are 60 levels in this game?!?!?!
Next thing I know, I'm back in Act I again, but I still have my levels, gear, skills...everything. I start going through the motions again but notice a stiff jump in playing difficulty and that's when it clicked! This game has very little to do with storylines or anything else I"m used to....granted, you need some type of plot device to give players a reason to continue progressing as well as for thematic reason but, truth be told, this game would be just as enjoyable if there weren't any storylines and instead just random milestones for Part I, II, III and IV.
In this game, loot is king. Your whole perspective is not to tell a story (that's a bonus!) but to scour every map, every dungeon, every little nook and cranny looking for mobs. Big, Bad, mean and ugly mobs that drop awesome loot! To find loot for your character and your alts...to find loot for your friends and trading partners....to find loot for the sole purpose of bragging rights. Storyline be damned (pun intended) I am obsessed with finding something that nobody has ever seen before, regardless of whether it's an item, a boss, an event...anything! And now that I understand that 'traditional' gaming logic doesn't apply to this series I'm loving every minute of it!
On the flip-side, there are a couple of negatives for me; the biggest being the Auction House. Not just as you noted in your article that players have to leave the game to access it, but that it exists at all! I understand that D2 had a huge black-market for item trading, and I don't even have a problem with Blizzard wanting a cut off the top, my problem goes deeper than that. In a game where loot is the be-all, end-all of your gaming delight, where your sole purpose is to find more of it and farm until your gear is good enough to progress....it's very anti-climactic knowing that I can just quit my game and buy whatever I need without needing to spend those countless hours scouring the game for it. Trade games such as you mentioned are one thing, that requires a relatively small pool of people to barter with, but a universal auction house containing everything that everyone is trying to sell seems very self-defeating.
All in all, though, I am having a blast with D3. I understand it's allure, and I am beginning to join the ranks of those devoted legions. It's been many years since a game has captured my excitement (and this level of obsession that is forcing me to lose sleep, skip household chores and ignore the family for just another dungeon run!) and I can see myself playing it for a long time to come.
Good (and accurate) article. It's just sad that so many people, like I did with D1 and D2, will play through normal mode, finish the story and walk away from this game without ever knowing they've only experienced about 1/4 of what this game is all about.
I'd like to thank everyone for their replies, it's helped me understand why everyone enjoys them so much. I can definitely see how "quest" variety would make DEs feel a little more organic and I think you all sold me on at least buying the game when it comes out. :)
I'm curious...I keep hearing over and over that GW2's quest system is so new and revolutionary that you just have to see it to understand it. After all the articles/discussion I've read I can't really see much of a difference between the quest system in GW2 and the public quest systems in other games.
To be fair, the PQ system in Rift was years beyond the first offering of a system like this that we saw in Warhammer, but from everything I've seen GW2 seems to have mimicked the Rift System; Random events (rifts) spawn throughout the zone as players approach...the more players in an area the higher the density of the spawns until you hit critical mass and end up with a full-scale zone invasion. Everyone can participate, everyone gets credit, and the system can be used a community building tool.
GW2 may be the next evolution of the public quest system just like Rift was when compared to Warhammer, but can you give me a little bit of info on why it's bigger/better/more awesomer as opposed to just being a clone of what we already have in Rift?
Good Article, and I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment. I haven't found any "hook" to pull me in and keep me playing. TERA does not do a good job of making me aware of the primary storyline, the significance of my being in the world (I don't even know the name of the world that I'm supposed to be saving!) or changing up the same leveling mechanisms that we've been forced to endure ad nauseum for way too many years.
What it does do, though, is allows me to escape for a couple of hours here and there and have a little fun with the combat. I've always sucked at twitch-based gaming so my ability to be successful at high-end, challenging content is very limited. This game works best (for me) as a holdover until Diablo 3 is released next week; it was worth the box price for it's "uniqueness" and will keep me from boredom for a couple of weeks, but as soon as something else comes along I will probably drop this game like a bad habit.
p.s. I prefer not to think about the Castanics as a "Grease cast making a Twilight movie in a gay bar" but rather as an 80's hair band front-man (David Lee Roth, Brett Michaels, CC Deville) gone horribly wrong. Yes, the look is decidedly ladyboy, but I have hope for the late-game armor models to at least keep me entertained. :)
I have to say this game really is a gem. Nothing seems to hold my attention anymore (SW:TOR, TERA) but it seems some of the best "game time" I have is just sitting in my recliner with my 4-year old on my lap and following his marching orders when he says "go here" or "use the snowman! that'll kill the troll!". We've been doing that almost nightly for 2-3 months now and having a blast.
My 11 year old has been playing Wizard101 for the last 2-3 years and finally hit max level last week. He was ecstatic to find the new areas unlocked when he got home from school yesterday and it was fun watching his excitement.....and remembering how I used to feel about content patches back in the day. :)
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